Bangalore: A subsidiary of US-based measurement tools firm Agilent Technologies Inc., Agilent Technologies International Ltd, plans to collaborate with leading Indian universities to scout for research ideas that can be converted into market opportunities.
Starting October, Agilent will accept doctoral research proposals from students at Indian universities, and will fund and mentor them if it finds the ideas relevant to it.
Measuring talent: Agilent Tech’s Venkatesh Valluri.
It will start with the premier Indian Institutes of Technology and the Indian Institute of Science before reaching out to other universities.
“Technologies should have a price value relevant to India,” said Venkatesh Valluri, president and country general manager of Agilent Technologies International, implying that a home-grown process would also be cost-effective.
“The Indian market (for measurement tools) is roughly about $500 million (Rs2,000 crore) now and will double in three years. That’s a tremendous growth, given that most developed markets are growing at about 2-3%,” he added.
Globally, the measurement market is about $43 billion, according to Valluri. Agilent Technologies Inc. had reported revenues of $5.4 billion in fiscal 2007.
The company has traditionally dealt with high-end technologies, catering to large corporations in areas such as life sciences, electronics, communications and chemical analysis. It is now positioning itself for the second tier—in products, enterprises as well as location.
In February, Agilent had announced that it would invest $35-40 million in India over the next year. It plans to use local talent to tap opportunities in the Indian market, and position its products for small and medium enterprises.
Agilent has now launched a few hand-held devices such as oscilloscopes—a lab instrument that studies electronic signals—and multimeters as well as mid-range liquid chromatography, which is a set of techniques to separate mixtures. These are aimed at mid-rung businesses.
In keeping with its new strategy, Agilent plans to move to tier-II cities such as Pune, Kochi and Visakhapatnam, as it increases its headcount from 1,600 now to 2,000 by 2009.
“These are all high technology positions,” said Valluri.
Agilent’s life sciences research and development centre in Bangalore is the largest of all its research centres.
The company is particularly upbeat about life sciences in India, where it feels increased health care spending by the government will spur demand for its products.
A niche player in nano measurements, Agilent is also closely watching the Indian nanotechnology mission to see where the emphasis will be —nano-materials or nano drug delivery—so it can address the market accordingly.
The nanotechnology mission was launched in 2007 with an allocation of Rs1,000 crore for five years.